Guardian Ad Litem names Brooksville business ‘Community Advocate of the Year’

Crank Works Bicycle Shop Logo
Crank Works Bicycle Shop in Inverness

Mark and Patricia Laird, of Crank Works Bicycle Shop in Brooksville has been honored as Community Advocates of the Year for the 5th Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program.

For more than five years as small business owners, the Lairds and Crank Works have supported the Guardian ad Litem Program by provided new, gently used and reconditioned bicycles to our young clients free of charge.

But they haven’t stopped there.  In 2016 and 2017, CRANK WORKS sponsored the “Hilly Hundred” bike ride which has drawn large crowds of cyclists from Hernando and surrounding areas for their choice of a 66 miles or a 100 miles bike ride throughout the beautiful Florida landscape.

The “entry fee” is simply to “bring a new, unwrapped toy or gently used bicycle for the Guardian ad Litem program toy drive.” As a result of their continuing generosity and commitment to Hernando County GAL children, Crank Works was nominated to Governor Rick Scott for a “Champion of Service Award” for persons or businesses who demonstrate excellence in volunteerism, community service and corporate responsibility in their local community in an honorable and outstanding way.

For their contribution and desire to help our GAL children ride into a better future (on a Crank Works bike), we proudly name Mark and Patricia Laird and Crank Works Bicycle Shop as the 5th Circuit Community Advocate of the Year 2017.

Duke Energy Florida seeks storm cost recovery for Hurricane Irma

Duke Energy Power Station
  • Estimated restoration cost recovery is $381 million

  • Company also seeks $132 million to replenish storm reserve account

  • Residential customers would see a $5.20 monthly increase per 1,000 kWh of electricity, assuming 3-year recovery period

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Duke Energy Florida today filed a petition with the Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC) to recover from customers an estimated $381 million in costs associated with the company’s response to September’s Hurricane Irma in Florida.

In addition, the company is seeking to recover $132 million to replenish its storm reserve fund for use in responding to future storms. The company depleted the remaining $62 million in the reserve fund as part of its Hurricane Irma storm response.

Based on updated estimates, residential customers will see an increase of $5.20per 1,000 kWh of electricity on a typical monthly bill, assuming a three-year recovery period.

Commercial and industrial customers will see an increase of approximately 2.5 to 6.6 percent, though bills will vary depending on a number of factors.

Spreading the recovery over a three-year period will help reduce the monthly impact to customers.

Under the current settlement agreement, the company is authorized to begin recovering both the storm impact and reserve replenishment 60 days after filing a petition with the FPSC.

The FPSC will review the proposed initial storm cost recovery surcharge within 60 days.

The charge will become effective with the first billing cycle for March 2018 and will continue through February 2021. The FPSC will then schedule a hearing process to review the final actual costs and adjust the billing rate if necessary. This will occur later in 2018.

“This past hurricane season impacted Florida significantly, from damaging homes and infrastructure to affecting agriculture and tourism. Duke Energy Florida understands the impact this filing has on both our residential and business customers,” said Harry Sideris, Duke Energy Florida state president. “We will continue making smart investments to significantly enhance service reliability throughout the year, including during storm season.”

Irma was a historic hurricane which caused widespread, devastating damage across the Southeast region. However, utilities united and battled back with an unprecedented response.

Duke Energy crews and contractors traveled to Florida from as far as Canada to get 1.3 million customers restored as quickly and safely as possible.

In Florida, more than 12,000 line and field workers replaced approximately 1,800 distribution poles, 140 transmission poles and 1,100 transformers.

Duke Energy restored power to more than 75 percent of customers in just three days and 99 percent within eight days.


A Home For The Holidays

FROM LEFT: ammy Harris, Housing Services Director; Cheryl Lambert, Broker Owner Only Way Realty/AHAC Member; Tinker Brown, Key Training Center Retail Operations Director; Barbara Wheeler, Mid-Florida Homeless Coalition Director/AHAC Member; Commissioner Jimmie T. Smith; Hershel Hensley, Brannen Bank/AHAC Member; Teresa Bradley, homeowner; Melissa Walker, Key Training Center Executive Director/AHAC Member;  Commissioner Brian Coleman; Tobey Phillips, Community Services Director; Valerie DeBay, Occupancy Specialist; Michelle DiRubba-Alford, Housing Coordinator; Genesis Chagnon, Senior Program Assistant; Don Hanchar, Donle Enterprises Inc.; John Edstrom; Rehab Specialist.


By Cynthia Oswald,
BOCC Public Information Officer

Christmas just got a little merrier in Hernando for Teresa Bradley and her family.

Teresa cut the ribbon and walked through the door of her new home on Dec. 20, 2017, thanks to Citrus County Housing Services, State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) funds and many community partner organizations.

Joining Teresa, her family, friends, pastor, supporters and county staff, were Commissioner Brian Coleman, who presented the keys to the home, and Commissioner Jimmie T. Smith, who presented the certificate of occupancy.

Teresa had first contacted housing services three years ago when her mobile home became unlivable and she had to move herself and belongings into a tent on the property she owned. This year, Citrus County Housing Services had enough funds in the State Housing Initiatives Partnership or SHIP program to get Teresa the new nine hundred square foot home she needed.

Local non-profits also donated furniture, a washer and dryer, refrigerator full of food, landscaping and everything Teresa needs to make the house her home, including a Christmas tree and a welcome mat at the front door.

Just in time for the holidays, Teresa said, “I am grateful to everyone that made this home possible and I plan on giving back to the community in the future”.


Extension Service recognizes volunteer milestones

Volunteers smile when honored
Volunteers, from left to right, include: Tania Frey, Ron Lewis, Elaine Lewis, Jaret Lubowiecki, Steve Evans, Darlene Krushansky and Al Slaska. For more information on the Extension and the programs it provides visit: .


In November 2017, the UF/IFAS Extension Citrus County recognized seven volunteers for reaching volunteer milestones.

These volunteers have donated a cumulative 120 years of service.

Five volunteers were recognized for 15 years of service, one for 20 years of service, and another for 25 years of service to the citizens of Citrus County through the Extension office. In all, these volunteers have donated more than 15,000 hours in just the past five years.

These Master Gardener volunteers assist citizens in identifying and remediating garden problems, choosing plants for local setting and educating you in smart gardening practices.


CAPTION: Volunteers, from left to right, include: Tania Frey, Ron Lewis, Elaine Lewis, Jaret Lubowiecki, Steve Evans, Darlene Krushansky and Al Slaska. For more information on the Extension and the programs it provides visit: .



Searchers find 4 missing children

These four children were found safe, albeit a little chilly, by fishermen in the area of the Chassahowitzka Campground. Nature Coast EMS made sure the children were properly warmed. (December 9, 2017)

The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday reported a happy ending for four children that went missing from the Chassahowitzka Campground earlier in the day.

All children were reported in good condition.

The children were found by nearby fishermen on the Chassahowitzka River. They are okay; however, three of the four are showing signs of hypothermia and are being treated by Nature Coast EMS.

“I want to thank the wonderful people of this great community for all of their support during this ordeal,” said Sheriff Prendergast.

“We are very blessed to have such dedicated First Responders along with volunteers who came out to help search for these children. What a great blessing to live in a place like this.”

The children were exploring around their campsite after arriving there with their families earlier today.